SOURCE: Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP

January 12, 2007 19:35 ET

Students' Dreams Honor King's Legacy

Elementary Students Recognized in Gardere's Annual MLK Oratory Competitions

DALLAS, TX, AUSTIN, TX and HOUSTON, TX -- (MARKET WIRE) -- January 12, 2007 -- Inspired by the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., elementary school students in these three Texas cities shared their dreams during Jan. 11-12 competitions that serve to honor the legacy of the civil rights leader.

Nearly 130 students, representing 13 Dallas, Austin and Houston schools, competed in preliminary contests over the past week for the right to represent their schools at their city's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory competition, sponsored by the law firm of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP.

This year's topic was "If You Could Share Your Dream With Dr. King, What Would It Be?"

"It was very impressive to hear the diversity found in the personal goals and dreams of each participant, coupled with their common aspirations," says Steve Good, Gardere's managing partner. "It is heartening to hear these young people express the highest principles of brotherhood and humanity in their speeches."

Ricky Dillard, a fourth grader at R.L. Thornton Elementary School, took top honors in the Dallas competition, held Jan. 11. The 10-year-old stirred the crowd, speaking of the need for communities to actively fight crime through intervention, education, improved access to jobs and zero tolerance for those who break the law. "As people, we must make the right decisions and stop walking around in a haze," he said.

The winner of the Austin competition was 10-year-old Dedric Johnson. Brandishing a football, the L.L. Campbell Elementary School fourth grader talked about how Dr. King's efforts meant that his dreams of becoming an NFL player and lawyer were within his grasp.

In Houston, 10-year-old Harvey Pittman II of Lucian L. Lockhart Elementary School won over the crowd and the judges with his passionate call to "Fight for equality. Fight for education. Fight for your dreams. And fight to win."

"This annual event is something we're very proud to support," says Claude Treece, Gardere's operating partner. "The number and quality of participants through the preliminary and final rounds continues to grow each year."

Gardere introduced the competition 15 years ago in Dallas to celebrate the city's diversity and promote awareness and understanding of different cultures. The event's success led to the establishment of the competition in Houston in 1997, and Austin in 2006. The oratory competition, which is held in conjunction with the national holiday recognizing the late civil rights leader, encourages the local community to remember and pay tribute to Dr. King's leadership and legacy.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students from participating schools in Austin, Dallas and Houston presented personally written speeches commemorating Dr. King's vision of peace and unity based on this year's theme. The young speakers are judged on the context of their speech, memorization, and their overall performance. All finalists receive U.S. savings bonds.

Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, an AmLaw 200 firm, was founded in 1909 and is one of the Southwest's largest full-service law firms. With offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston and Mexico City, Gardere provides legal services to private and public companies and individuals in areas of litigation, corporate, tax, environmental, labor and employment, intellectual property and financial services.


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